Finished Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. I received a copy for review.
Nadia and Saaed meet in a college class and are drawn to each other. They start to date, super slowly. (You remember what it’s like.) Meanwhile, their city is on the brink of civil war. It’s minor at first, until it isn’t. Until people start dying. Until the phones and internet go down. Until neighborhoods are kept separate. Nadia and Saaed live in different neighborhoods but manage to reconnect and flee together (first to Greece, then England, then California).
This book. It’s beautiful and sad. Secondary characters die and relationships fracture. Nadia works to assimilate; Saaed clings to the familiar. They discuss the responsibility of the host country to be welcoming (Nadia understands the less-than-warm welcome they receive; Saaed does not).
As hard as it is to read, its greatest achievement is that it doesn’t feel like an issues book. Yes, hopefully the reader will feel sympathetic to refugees’ plight but it is about these two specific people.